Design is universal. We all live and work in the built world, and every object, system and environment in the built world has been designed. Clever is a podcast about design. Well, actually, it's about designers, too. Sure, they're visionaries, problem-solvers, critical thinkers, rebels and aesthetes, but above all, they're human. Designer Amy Devers and Design Milk's Jaime Derringer are having candid and revealing conversations with these super-smart people because, well, relating to the humans responsible for the objects and environments that shape our lives can result in a more meaningful connection to the built world.
Architect and educator Elena Manferdini grew up in Italy, drawing on any surface she was allowed to, and some she wasn’t. After obtaining a degree in structural engineering, a 9-month stint in Los Angeles grew into a 22-year ongoing stay. In LA, she established her studio, Atelier Manferdini, and began teaching. Now the Chair of Graduate Programs at SCI-Arc and a new mother, she’s passionate about the exchange of information and experimenting with color as a democratizing force for architecture.
In this special Clever Extra, we’re sharing a rebroadcast of another podcast we produce for Neocon called NeoConversations. What does it take to effectively design brand character into a space? How can brand values and purpose be communicated through materiality, visual language, ambiance and experience? Amy Devers explores these questions with Renee Hytry Derrington, International Design Lead for Formica Group, and Abbott Miller, a partner at world-renowned design studio, Pentagram.
Fashion designer Scott Sternberg just wants to feel it. He grew up in Ohio, watching MTV and living an idyllic-ish childhood with requisite darkness. After an economics degree and a stint as a Hollywood agent, he was informed that he was a fashion designer. His first label, Band of Outsiders, was a cult success, but grew to be unsustainable. Now, with his new label Entireworld, he’s doing things differently and incorporating lessons learned. Oh and he’s available - must love dogs, PowerPoint and weekend
Cognitive neuroscientist Sahar Yousef grew up in the Bay Area the daughter of Iranian immigrants. She became fascinated by human consciousness at a young age and she followed that curiosity to studies in philosophy, then all the way to a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. Now she aims her brain toward helping leaders maximize their potential so they can do their best work, then go home to their families, and sleep! Here she shares what you need to know to accelerate your creativity & stop draining your brain.
Illustrator Abbey Lossing grew up in the midwest with drawing as a favorite pastime and influence from a grandmother who was a portrait painter. By high school, she was starting to take drawing seriously, and that led to focused college studies in illustration. Always feeling drawn to the freelance way of life, she set herself up for success by first paving the road with two years of corporate “real job” work before setting out on her own. Here, she shares how she gained her professional footing.
Strategy and design consultant, Alain Sylvain, was born and raised in New York City, the son of Haitian immigrants. His early creativity included playing in fake bands and starting a fake restaurant. After studying international affairs and business he embarked on a brief stint in political campaigns, but that morphed into advertising and he found himself embracing both his creativity and business acumen to help leverage the might of corporations for the greater good.
Gregg Buchbinder, Chairman of iconic furniture brand Emeco, grew up in southern California, on a “long leash” and with a constant longing to be surfing or sailing. That love of the ocean infused him with a very strong sense of sustainability as his driving purpose. The story of Emeco began long before Gregg—in 1944 with the 1006 Navy Chair—but their destinies have been intertwined for generations. They have been through hardship and tragedy together, and have arisen through miraculous transformation
Designer / public servant, Ana Monroe, grew up in the south to radio station-owning liberals who taught her to reject the status quo in favor of positive change. While she never did inherit her Panamanian-born mother’s wild, beautiful curls, she did pick up her wide-open ideas about beauty. After graciously rejecting the idea of law school, she embarked on a series of professional adventures that led to her current work as a human-centered design leader at a federal government think tank.
Internationally acclaimed designer Humberto Campana grew up in small-town Brazil and found imaginative freedom in crafts and the local movie theater. During his adolescence it was considered subversive, even dangerous, to become an artist so he decided law school was the best way to get to the big city. He eventually abandoned law in order to “construct his life with his own hands.” A near-death experience led to his first chair design and the formation of an enduring studio partnership with his brother
Digital designer and writer Amélie Lamont is a native New Yorker and daughter of Jamaican immigrants. A self-proclaimed nerd, she grew up reading Encyclopedia Britannica and teaching herself to code. A life-long learner, she has pursued many different areas of study in school and hated them all, which is probably why her long-term vision for herself involves a PhD and starting a design school! As an outspoken advocate of PoC, she has initiated projects like People of Craft and The Guide to Allyship.
Fine artist and designer, Daniel Arsham, grew up in Miami in the mirror image of the house across the street. After graduating from the Cooper Union, back in Miami he co-founded the artist-run gallery space ‘The House’. An invitation to collaborate with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company led to global adventures in stage design, and in 2007, in order to expand his explorations of spatial manipulation, he formed Snarkitecture, a multidisciplinary design practice with partner Alex Mustonen.
Google’s Head of Hardware Design, Ivy Ross, learned from her industrial designer father how to see the world for how it’s made, and for the possibilities of how it could be remade. Early professional success as a jewelry designer taught her that life is not about ego hits, it’s about the journey. Fueled by curiosity, she’s traveled through the corporate world as a way to keep learning. She approaches work like conducting an orchestra - drawing out the best in individuals to create beautiful music as
Industrial designer Carl Gustav Magnusson, was born in Sweden and grew up on a farm in Canada. Early life was informed by wide open spaces and a natural curiosity about cars and industrial farm equipment. After engineering and architecture degrees he got straight to work with Charles and Ray Eames, and then logged 30+ years with Knoll. He’s spent his life dedicated to contributing to society’s needs in a thoughtful way. Along the route, he’s worked with the greats, and birthed many iconic designs.
Costume concept artist Gina DeDomenico Flanagan spent the first half of her childhood roller skating around a cul-de-sac and the second half riding a horse around Hawaii. She studied fashion and illustration and then found her way into the entertainment business working with costume designers. After a 10-year motherhood hiatus and a divorce, she re-entered the industry and found that everything had gone digital. Through tears and hard work she learned the new tools and now she helps outfit superheroes. Pow!
Designer, researcher and author Ingrid Fetell Lee spent her childhood traveling back and forth between divorced parents, indulging her curiosity during unstructured time, and losing herself in books and her journal. Her professional path routed her through creative writing, market research and industrial design on the way to dedicating her life to the study of joy, and helping people understand the very profound effects our surroundings have on our well-being. It’s powerful and paradigm-shifting work!
In this special Clever Extra, taped live at a Be Original Americas event in Los Angeles, we conducted 6 lightning round interviews with leaders in different areas of design and architecture. Our central question of the night: How is original design and authentic voices important to the growth and ecosystem of your industry? Our guests included Gegg Buchbinder, Elena Manferdini, Bret Englander, Amanda Dameron and Barbara Bouza. Have a listen and join the conversation with us on social media.
Streetwear designer Bobby Hundreds grew up as a minority of a minority, being both Korean-American and into the socal skate punk scene. He loved to draw, but as the son of immigrants, he was not encouraged to pursue the arts so he got a law degree instead. When he started The Hundreds with a classmate, it took off like a rocket and he learned to fight like both an underdog and a champion. With the soul of a storyteller, he uses his voice—zines, blog, film, book—to champion the streetwear ecosystem.
Experience designer Kristy Tillman was a very studious child, extremely driven academically. Always on the advanced track, she assumed she would one day be a lawyer like Clair Huxtable. Coding and art were background passions until a friend made her aware of design as a profession and she immediately redirected them to the foreground. Having recognized the need and summoned the courage to “invite herself to the table,” she is now Head of Global Experience Design at Slack. Still on the advanced track, o
Experience designer David Schwarz grew up “seeking weird things to explore, make and build.” Fast forward to adulthood and he’s still at it. As co-founder of Hush Studios he spends his brain power and energy blending architectural space and digital technology to create installations and experiences that people can inhabit, learn from, play in, and feel things inside of. He arrived via detours in economics and the San Francisco tech boom. It’s not a straight line, or clean story but it’s a fascinat
Artist and designer Zoë Pawlak knew in childhood that life in suburbia wasn’t the whole picture, so she saved her babysitting money to spend some time in Chile with relatives. The experience opened the door to fine art and after studying painting in high school and college, a pregnancy dictated she must put her skills to work professionally. Successful in her painting, she is now making a name as a rug designer also. With 2 ½ years of sobriety going for her she is joyful and fully present. What a gift!
Lighting designer Pablo Pardo was born in Venezuela 3 minutes after his identical twin brother, making him the youngest of 5. His father’s work as a civil engineer took them to Chile until age 7, and then to Ohio. Making remote control airplanes in Dad’s workshop revved up his curiosity and he followed it directly into industrial design. (So did his twin and a sister, that’s 3 in one family!) After some time in both automotive and toy design he found his love of light and he’s been glowing ever sinc
Design*Sponge founder Grace Bonney grew up knowing she wasn’t straight but not knowing what to do with that. Her love of Riot Grrrl music and angry collages informed her creative identity and after studying art and journalism in college, it all melted together in the creation of Design*Sponge. After 15 years and a lot of success, she’s just announced that she plans to shutter this year and she’s sending it out in a blaze of experimentation and celebration. We can’t wait to see what’s next!
Jeansmith and co-founder of Raleigh Denim, Victor Lytvinenko, was born with tons of energy and curiosity. As he grew it led to playing soccer, building small engines, and digging deep into whatever was capturing his attention - woodworking, cooking, wine-making... until he found a sewing machine and became obsessed with making the perfect pair of jeans. Together with his now-wife Sarah Yarborough, they perfected the pants and went on to build a brand deeply committed to craftsmanship. Cult following ensued.
Graphic designer, illustrator and lettering artist, Jessica Hische forged her fierce independence during a tough chapter in childhood. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be an artist, but it necessitated a school transfer to pursue that dream. With candor and self-awareness, she’s forthcoming about the challenging aspects of her work, as well as the triumphs. Her new children’s book is a sweet and encouraging embrace of bravery.
Happy New Year! This episode originally aired on 11/14/17. International design star Marcel Wanders grew up in the Netherlands taking things apart and making gifts from the pieces. After a rebellious and experimental adolescence, he discovered design in school and fell in love. Then he got kicked out. 20+ years later, with many global successes to his name, he is focussed on celebrating small victories, continually learning something new, and warning against the dangers of design fundamentalism.
Happy holidays! This episode aired originally on 9/20/16.
Mexican and American artist/designer/maker/activist Tanya Aguiñiga shares with Jaime and Amy what it was like growing up in Tijuana and crossing the US border every day to attend school in the US, how an accidental haircut during her troubled teenage years got her kicked out of the house, and how a dedicated mentor gave her the encouragement she needed to become an artist. She also recounts a few crazy stories featuring a clown, a bull and an eagle
Happy holidays! We’re rebroadcasting a favorite episode from the archives. This episode aired originally on June 26, 2016. Enjoy!
Actor, artist and renaissance man, Terry Crews recounts his adventures in furniture design, gets candid about his childhood ambition to escape the trap of his bleak hometown, and expounds on his duality as both a tough athlete and sensitive artist. In the process, he slings some serious wisdom and infects Jaime and Amy with his super-contagious lust for life.
Everyone’s most beloved DIY hero, fashion designer, and creative maverick Todd Oldham grew up experimenting at the family craft table and stabbing his sister (volunteer fit model) with pins. A self-described little weirdo, he learned early on to eschew the arbitrary boundaries that society uses to stratify and separate. He values process over outcome and honors his curiosity while staying committed to excellence. This has earned him brand permission and a ton of wisdom for living a full, creative life.
Interior designer and TV personality Lauren Makk grew up in the south, fluffing other people’s pillows, painting murals on train cars under cover of darkness, and rolling with her car crew Ill-usion. As a little girl, Julia Sugarbaker on TV’s Designing Women was Lauren’s career role model. Years later, she is also a designer on TV! She’s made her mark on Trading Spaces, FABLife, and Home Made Simple. She’s building an empire, leaving a legacy, and dreaming of giving the White House a “Makk-over.
Graphic designer Aaron Draplin was born in Michigan & raised on LEGO bricks, pizza nights, punk rock & snowboarding. He spent early adulthood rolling with the “crusty undercurrent of f*ckheads” that lives to snowboard before he ventured to Minneapolis to study design among the ghosts of his musical heroes. He’s seen some high-falutin’ stuff at the museum, but the steelyard is where it’s at. He’s all about working hard, making a sh*t whack of money, taking care of his people & having some fun alo
In this Clever Extra, we talk to Phil Prestigomo, Director of Industrial Design for Legrand, for an illuminating discussion on the subject of lighting. It’s been a while since we’ve given much thought to the trusty old light switch. Phil enlightens us with the research he’s been conducting on how we use lighting today, and how we can easily switch it up to integrate modern, customizable solutions to fit every need. He’s full of bright ideas! Sorry (not sorry) for all the puns - we couldn’t help ou
Industrial designer Cory Grosser grew up quintessentially all-American, lettering in football and winning trophies for his Halloween costumes. He studied architecture, but realized most buildings are built by “old” men, decided he was too impatient and shifted to product design. After years of pushing himself too hard, he is learning to find balance. Now he runs a holistic design studio, focuses on being a good dad, and teaches his students to unlock their creative potential, not strive for perfection.
After our last episode with Madeline Weinrib we had a lot more to say. This mini-episode is an extension of our usual Amy & Jaime post-interview debrief and a venture into the murky waters of social media. It’s also an invitation to you, our listeners, to engage with us in the grander dialogue about what it means to be a creative in the modern world. This conversation is just a starting point, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Designer Madeline Weinrib wasn’t a good student until an art teacher recognized & supported her talent. After a successful stint as a fine artist, she transitioned to textiles. Known for her painterly sensibility, her textiles quickly became sought after & she cultivated collaborative relationships with artisans around the world. Unfortunately, a victim of knock-offs, her designs were stolen and copied so pervasively that her business became unsustainable. Heartbreaking but her future is full of potential
Architect Dan Brunn was born in Tel Aviv and moved to Los Angeles at age 7. The architectural contrast between the two cities made a deep impression and informed his life’s direction. Despite a language barrier, he made friends though the universal language of drawing cars and sharing new, exotic snacks. A guidance counselor once tried to convince him that he wouldn’t amount to anything. He’s proved that wrong by 1000%. Now, when he’s not staring down a mountain lion, he’s choreographing exquisite
Woodworker and furniture designer Kate Duncan grew up feeling like a square peg in a family of pragmatic accountants. She indulged in sewing lessons and endured charm school until she found woodshop class and fit right in. After years as a shop teacher, a motorcycle accident catalyzed the launch of her namesake brand. Shortly thereafter she also founded Address, an annual exhibit of designer / makers in her hometown of Vancouver, which dovetails nicely with another one of her talents: throwing a good party.
Interior designer & social media influencer Orlando Soria grew up in a tiny community in Yosemite National Park with a view of the falls from his bedroom window. Despite the majestic scenery, his head was buried in magazines, dreaming of city life. Always creative, he meandered through school, PR, and PA jobs before landing a role on a TV show, starting a blog, and building up his social media following. He’s been through some ups and downs, but now he’s got a new book out and a bright outlook.
Graphic designer Lawrence Azerrad, a native of Los Angeles, grew up drawing pictures and fighting the inferiority complex that comes with being a “normal” in the city of stars. Since then he’s designed iconic album covers like Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, won a Grammy for the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition box set, and authored & designed a book, Supersonic, about the fabulous style of Concorde. Turns out having his head in the clouds, playing amongst the stars, is right where he b
Architect and founding partner of experimental design studio The Principals, Drew Seskunas grew up surfing, getting arrested for skateboarding and navigating the social divide between jocks and artists. In high school, a documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright piqued his interest and set him on course to architecture school. Within a decade, he was building a large public project in Berlin while struggling to argue in German. Now, he’s creating interactive and mind-bending environments that shift perspectives.
Designer, artist, author & influencer Justina Blakeney spent her youth teaching art to abused/neglected teenage girls at a residential treatment program run by her parents, where she witnessed the healing power of art & kindness. After formative years in Switzerland and Italy, she settled in Los Angeles and harnessed the Internet to build Jungalow, an immensely popular lifestyle brand inspired by her travels & her multicultural background, fueled by a deep belief in the empowering magic of art and kindness.
Artist and designer, Chris Schanck, moved upwards of 22 times in his youth. He credits Uncle Rocco with firing up his creative engine at an early age, and an arts magnet school in adolescence with “saving his life.” That’s not an overstatement. Fast forward a few years and he’s developed a distinct visual language, has a solo show at a prestigious gallery under his belt, and critically successful body of work. Now, he’s built a life and studio in Detroit, where he is attempting to put down some ro
Ingrid LaFleur is an artist, curator, pleasure activist, cannabis advocate and founder of Afrotopia, a creative platform that looks for ways to implement afrofuturist principles. She is also a very emphatic and supportive native of Detroit. In fact, in 2017 she ran for Mayor and created a plan of action that included radical thought, innovative ideas and solid brilliant logic. She’s doing the work, gently and joyfully crafting a future of conscious co-liberators, decentralized power and decolonized minds.
We teamed up with COS for this Clever Extra to celebrate the exquisite art of Dorothea Rockburne. Courtney J. Martin, Chief Curator of Dia Art Foundation, elaborates on Rockburne’s conceptual approaches and techniques while offering us a view of her curatorial methods in mounting a long-term exhibition of her work. Karin Gustafsson, Creative Director for COS, reveals how her admiration for Rockburne’s work - the lines, textures and simplicity of materials, inspired the direction of the current collectio
Furniture designer Maximilian Eicke grew up being schlepped around the world to galleries and and antiques shops by his art dealer father. All that input served to make him feel at home anywhere in the world and yet, in a quasi-rebellious sort of way, instilled in him the desire to create something original. His childhood was both blessed by love and privilege and cursed by bullying and attempts to invalidate his creativity—a recipe for gratitude, perspective, and turbo drive to disprove the naysayers.
Architect Barbara Bestor’s childhood memories involve Brutalist architecture and purple carpeted stairs. She divided her youth between the East Coast, Germany and the Midwest, before venturing to Los Angeles, the land of sunshine and smog, to make her mark. Over twenty years later, her studio is responsible for some of the most culturally relevant workplaces, hospitality venues and experimental residences in the greater Los Angeles area. Now she’s thinking a lot about urban density and the 2028 Olympics
Industrial designer Ti Chang is co-founder and creative director of Crave, a start-up dedicated to innovative and elevated sex toys. Originally from Taiwan, as a child Ti moved with her family to the U.S. and grew up feeling out of place in small-town Georgia. Loneliness had its upside though; less friends, more creative time! An independent thinker and brave warrior for female empowerment, she’s on a mission to eradicate shame and guilt, and believes all women should own their pleasure. Amen, sister!
We teamed up with Tarkett for this Clever Extra to take a deep dive into Neoculture - a term coined to describe the way diverse cultures are coming together as never before to create entirely new cultures with new values. Suzanne Tick, a product and textile designer, and Chris Stulpin, Chief Creative Officer for Tarkett have done extensive research into the attitudinal shifts and megatrends that inform Neoculture, how it impacts the future of the built world, and why it matters to the design community.
President and Creative Director of Bernhardt Design, Jerry Helling, grew up on a ranch in a remote town with 11 people in his graduating class before venturing to USC and a potential career in Hollywood. A personal epiphany combined with serendipity rerouted him into the furniture business, resulting in a long and distinguished career as a keen mentor of talent, a champion of originality, a risk-taking, needle-moving industry voice, and a major benefactor of international design. Plus, he’s really nice!
Fashion journalist and design retailer Rose Apodaca wears many professional hats. She spent her youth immersed in the lively Los Angeles music and skateboarding scenes, then became a journalist covering city politics, gang detail and street tribes. After a stint as the west coast bureau chief of Women’s Wear Daily, she started A+R, a design retail business, with her partner Andy. Along the way she’s owned a few bars, written a few books, adopted a child and lived every day with an enviably stylish gusto
Eric Quint, Chief Design Officer of 3M, incubated a lifelong habit of design thinking in youth at the family kitchen table. After studying engineering and industrial design he embarked on a distinguished career at Philips where he evolved from designer to design leader. Now, as the first CDO of 3M, he’s a champion of collaborative creativity and spends his energy in the exciting and complex job of pushing the front edge of progress. Oh, and he’s a jazz guy—find out how that influences his leadership s
Product designer and installation artist, Nika Zupanc, has always had a strong emotional reaction to furniture, both positive and negative. Born and raised in former Yugoslavia, she was attracted at a young age to books, cinema and art and that sense of drama and narrative shows up in her work. Her path to design is a pretty straight line; determined, focused and passionate, punctuated by a rebellious use of pink, and a fierce protectiveness of her creativity through time spent in nature and the gym.
Car designer Oliver Heilmer has known he wanted to go into auto design since he was a little kid fascinated by tractors on his grandmother’s farm. He grew up in Munich, Germany drawing machines and vehicles on any paper available, and then studied industrial and automobile design in school. Soon after graduation, he landed a job with BMW Group and has been there ever since. Now, as the head of MINI Design, he’s dedicated to designing for innovation and emotion. This is a long-term love affair, indeed.
Metalworker and designer Meyghan Hill tells Amy and Jaime how she opted to send herself to military boarding school and then stumbled into a modeling career before empowering herself after a bad break-up by learning to weld. She operates under the provocative and polarizing name of (wh)ORE HAüS Studios, and while it is a play on words, it is also a very powerful conversation-starter, which she then parlays into meaningful dialogue. This episode contains modeling and metal, yes, but no “blue steel” joke
Strategic designer Todd Bracher regales us with tales of a serendipitous ten-year journey, living, loving and learning through Europe, on the way to launching his namesake studio in Brooklyn. Plus, he walks us through what the hell “strategic design” even means, schools us on the concept of “irreducible complexity” and explains his creative approach which he refers to as “essentialism.” Early on, he showed up to a big pitch meeting way overdressed, and now he keeps a poet on standby.
Collector and high-design advocate, Lisa Roberts, reflects on a childhood spent in an architecturally significant home that discomfited her because it made her feel different from her peers, and also ignited her passion for design because it seeped into her very being. Now, having collected more than 400 “Antiques of the Future,” she uses her collection to educate, author books, and advocate for the game changing power of design. Not too shabby for ol’ Curtains Roberts, eh? Mr. Waffles approves. Meow!
Designer, illustrator & artist Timothy Goodman was labeled a “dead-end kid” in his youth until he did 4 years of hard labor with a mentor/father-figure in the home improvement industry, through which he found both discipline and a desire to study design. A degree and a few mentors later he’s now known for his illustrations, viral social experiments, murals, books & even protests. Plus, he’s checking his white male privilege and championing inclusion in ways both meaningful and practical. Pretty rad.
Entrepreneur and internet pioneer Jen Bekman tells the story of how she founded 20x200 with a mission of making art collecting accessible to everyone. On the leading edge of ecommerce, 20x200 achieved enormous initial success and grew very quickly. Jen tells her powerful story of adapting her business on-the-fly as the internet landscape shifted dramatically under her feet—her perseverance fed by a deep belief that living with art is good for you, and the creation of art itself is an act of bravery. Bravo
Designer, entrepreneur, and Airbnb co-founder, Joe Gebbia, was known as the “art guy” in grade school when he started his first business selling illustrations of Ninja Turtles. Then, while pursuing dual design degrees, he founded his first legit startup with RISD’s basketball team, The Balls. Now as the leader of innovation & ideation at Airbnb he’s focused on exploring new attitudes of sharing and trust. Oh, and don’t tell him he can’t do something. He'll go to extremes to prove you wrong.
Fashion designer Mary Ping was influenced at a young age by a stylish grandmother who taught her to sew. Always knowing she’d one day run her own label, she studied art at Vassar and worked in east London’s scene before founding her conceptual line, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, a living archive of wardrobe classics, reexamined. Not one to participate on the hamster wheel of trends, she prefers injecting social commentary and sartorial wit into her work. Plus, her photographic memory weirds people out.
We teamed up with Interface for this Clever Extra to dissect and reflect on the current office renaissance. It’s moving away from one-size-fits all toward addressing the needs, rhythms and health of the individual. But what are those needs? How do we address them through design? Is this also good for the brand? We talked to Interface’s Chief Design Officer, Chip DeGrace and corporate interior design specialist Beth Davis to tackle this subject from all angles. Here’s a tip - don’t forget about acous
International design star, Marcel Wanders, grew up in the Netherlands taking things apart and making gifts from the pieces. After a rebellious and experimental adolescence, he discovered design in school and fell in love. Then he got kicked out. 20+ years later, with many global successes (products, furniture, lighting, and magical hospitality interiors) to his name, he is focussed on celebrating small victories, continually learning something new, and warning against the dangers of design fundamentalism.
MoMA’s senior curator of Architecture & Design, Paola Antonelli, grew up steeped in the design culture of Milan and developed a sense of fearlessness from frequent travels to foreign lands. After studying architecture in school she landed in the curatorial arts without even aiming for it. She talks to Amy and Jaime about how she views objects as lenses for understanding the complexity of the built world and her passionate belief that cultural institutions, like museums, are the R&D of society. *Swoon*
Product designer Ini Archibong grew up taking things apart with little success putting them back together, and cutting class to throw pottery. After a false-start in business school, he taught himself CAD, philosophy, and mathematics until he serendipitously found himself apprenticing an architect. That led to a degree from Art Center and discovering a love of designing furniture. Now he lives and works in Switzerland where he recently obtained a Master’s in Luxury (listen to find out what that means!).
The President of Rhode Island School of Design, furniture designer/maker Rosanne Somerson was considered a rabble rouser in her youth for attempting to take a woodshop class while being female. Undeterred, she found her way to a BA in Industrial Design from RISD and built her name as a leader in the studio furniture movement. Now the president of RISD, having also co-founded RISD’s Furniture Design department, is carving new ways forward for arts and design education and championing the power of boredom
Interior designer and TV personality Nate Berkus reveals his favorite early 80’s fashion ensemble, his childhood obsession with hair product and how his youthful restlessness got him sent to boarding school and even landed him in jail for a night. He shares the big lessons he learned from his years working with Oprah and elaborates on his earnest mission to help people tell their own stories through their spaces. Oh and apparently he’s a “bad picker” of people, but he’s gotten help with that.
Designer and maker Tyler Hays confides he was a weird kid with a sewing machine, a pansy garden and raccoon-skinning skills in the small town where he grew up. After a brief stint as a Portland art star, he ventured to New York and earned his keep doing odd contractor jobs. Now, the proprietor of cult favorite furniture brand BDDW, and handmade sundries brand M. Crow is on a mission to make everything he uses while bridging the divide between rural and urban America. Plus, he’s got goats!
Legendary British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes tells Jaime and Amy how her early early textile designs were considered too extreme for the traditional purveyors, so she had to take manufacturing into her own hands. As a fashion designer, she pioneered the use of printed textiles as an intrinsic part of the garment’s composition. Now 50 years into her career, she attributes her extraordinary work ethic to her mother. Oh, and she has been known to frolic in the sea alongside Burt Bacharach.
Founder and CEO of design brand Kikkerland, Jan Van Der Lande, tells Jaime and Amy that when he started the business 25 years ago his houseboat was HQ, and delivery happened via his bicycle. Born and raised in the Netherlands, it was a lack of farming opportunities that compelled him to pursue greener pastures in New York City. And even though his lackluster academic performance in youth was no indicator of his future success and entrepreneurial prowess, you still can’t convince him that 1 + 1 = 2.
Architect and designer Daniel Germani took a circuitous route to get to his full-time practice. Along the way he’s worked in tech, media and got an MBA. He talks to Jaime and Amy about his childhood in Buenos Aires, grappling with his Catholic upbringing, and his passion for designing spaces that support clients living life to the fullest. Plus, he is fiercely (and hilariously) anti-tchotchke!
Graphic designer and entrepreneurial super-hero, Tina Roth Eisenberg aka swissmiss, has always been full of ideas. Luckily, she channels her powers for good: like the lecture series CreativeMornings, Tattly temporary tattoos, to-do app TeuxDeux and the popular design blog swissmiss. She shares with Jaime and Amy the magic of finding and building community through non-transactional giving, the positive side of divorce and the benefits of keeping a desk drawer stocked with confetti.
Graphic designer and Senior Creative Director of Facebook’s Building 8 team, Josh Higgins, spent his SoCal youth surfing, enduring a painful homelife, and harboring rebellious angst. He found therapeutic release and success in playing punk rock music, and also accidentally found the pathway to his calling. Now, he’s a champion of social causes and connecting the world through empathy. Oh and remember when Obama ran for re-election in 2012? Guess who design-directed that victorious campaign? Go Josh!
Architect Craig Steely grew up tinkering in a family whose motto was ‘custom anything’ so it’s not all that surprising that he’s scaled that idea up to the design of buildings. It’s refreshing to hear him talk about how that mentality has informed not only his work, but the very nature of his architecture practice; a small, personal, agile practice that focuses on meaning, relationships, and… hot lava!
Architect, digital designer, and design thinker extraordinaire Leslie Witt moved around a lot as a youth, which made her very adaptable, but sometimes resulted in fashion mishaps as a teenager. She grew up excelling at almost everything and therefore some of her toughest struggles didn’t arrive until adulthood. She breaks down those challenges with wit and wisdom and charms us with her optimism, humility and problem-solving prowess. Also, she explains techy stuff to us in a way that we can understand.
Furniture and product designer Brad Ascalon calls himself a rational designer and even though he initially wanted to work in the music industry, a heart to heart with his artistic father during a career setback started him on a path toward industrial design and he’s never looked back. He confesses that while he loves design work, the regular rejection that comes with the territory has sometimes felt like being dumped.
Filmmaker, photographer and perpetual entrepreneur Gary Hustwit connects the dots of his DIY-driven path through independent music, independent publishing, and independent films, to his current preoccupation with non-fiction VR. Along the way he deconstructs the methods to his madness and expounds on the popularity of his trilogy of design documentaries: Helvetica, Objectified and Urbanized. Plus he teases a bit about his forthcoming doc about Dieter Rams.
This Old House Master Carpenter Norm Abram charms Jaime and Amy with stories of a youth spent building pinewood derby cars and learning the trade from his father, who lives on in the walls of the house they built together as adults. He got his start in TV by accident, but thanks to an unfailing dedication to patience and safety, that’s about the only major accident he can speak of. These days, he’s on a mission to bring today’s youth into tomorrow’s trade labor force.
Brand strategist, OG podcaster and all-around badass, Debbie Millman, traces the genesis of her branding talent back to the Stayfree packaging at her father’s pharmacy, shares the poignant details of how a pair of lime green Levi’s helped her cope with a painful childhood and just generally oozes wisdom and deep thoughts with every word. Plus, she offers a revelatory distinction between courage and confidence and has an enduring fondness for potato chips.
Furniture designer, engineer and manufacturer Derek Chen identifies his childhood in the midwest as the origin of his love for American design, details how he transitioned from his first career as a management consultant to his second career as the CEO and Design Director of Council, a modern American furniture brand, and celebrates the merits of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a model of ingenuity. Plus, he invented a technique for cleaning his room with a 2x4.
Interior designer and TV personality Taniya Nayak confesses to Jaime and Amy that she probably did some damage to the ozone layer in her youth, but it’s OK because she won first place in a high hair contest. With endearing candor, she opens up about childhood bullies, her struggles with fertility and how she defines success. Plus, while filming, she accidentally found a sex toy in a teenager’s bedroom, ew.
Fashion designer Mimi Plange talks to Amy and Jaime about being born in Ghana, growing up in California, and nurturing herself on a steady diet of fantasy movies. She's always known she’d become a fashion designer, but an invitation to the White House by Michelle Obama came as a total surprise. Plus, she's got cred with both Beyoncé and Jay Z.
World-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind inspires Jaime and Amy with his eternally optimistic world-view and powerfully uplifting story of being born into persecution, immigrating to “the promised land” of the U.S. and participating in the space race. As the architect responsible for the master plan of the World Trade Center site, he composes memory in order to heal the future. Oh and he’s got mad accordion skills.
Interior designer Ghislaine Viñas talks to Amy and Jaime about what it was like to grow up in apartheid South Africa, how she accidentally landed her first real interior design job, and how she’s too adventurous to work for anyone but herself. Plus, she's not scared of anything.
Chilean-born artist / designer / activist Sebastian Errazuriz captivates Amy and Jaime with tales of his rigorous arts training, examples of his immaculate hustle and a specific method he employs whenever he needs to force an idea up to the surface. He’s as disciplined and driven as an Olympic athlete, and hell-bent on having us all re-think reality.
Seth Grizzle, of architecture and product design studio graypants, tells Amy and Jaime about being the creative kid in a family that didn’t quite “get” him, how an art teacher helped set him on the course to architecture and why living on a boat helps him edit his possessions down to just the ones that make a great story. Also, he reveals the story behind the name graypants.
New Zealand-based designer/maker David Trubridge, who is known the world over for his beautiful and environmentally responsible lighting and furniture, has wandered to the corners of the earth, soaked up all its glory, and pays homage to it in everything he does. Amy and Jaime are rapt as he details his life of adventures and poetically distills how they inform his work and his experience of humanity. A real salt of the earth, this guy.
LA-based interior designer Kelly Wearstler recounts to Amy and Jaime the journey from creating and selling crafts in her youth to building her namesake global lifestyle brand. Along the way she's worked waiting tables, battled painful shyness, and become a hockey mom. She also describes her closet in mouth-watering, vivid detail.
Brooklyn-based architect Kevin Greenberg of Space Exploration delights Jaime and Amy with tales of culture shock while working in Japan, notes that decades of architecture practice has re-wired his brain to notice bad design, and articulates how he would one day love to build a site of sanctuary and contemplation. Plus, he concocts some creative and funny solutions to ridiculous problems in a fun game of Fix It!
Product and interior designer Harry Allen shares with Amy and Jaime how his childhood in New Jersey was shaped by frequent field trips to NYC, how he collaborated with chef Daniel Boulud to design his thesis project, and why he decided to cast an actual piglet for his now-famous piggy bank. Also, he's able to cut a really tight circle on a pair of skates, and we suspect he is a total boss in the rink.
Textile product designer and entrepreneur Sandy Chilewich regales Amy and Jaime with tales of growing up in Rotterdam, being a child of the ‘60s and finding her way to founding the very successful Hue leg wear company. Now, as the head of Chilewich Sultan, she candidly shares the trials and triumphs that have informed her wisdom - including a panic attack at the public speaking podium. Sadly, no scotch was involved in this interview.
Eco-friendly lifestyle expert Danny Seo talks to Jaime and Amy about how he found his true calling at 12 years old, how being famous in Korea at a young age helped him keep his ego in check, and how he navigates tough situations by trying to understand the underlying intentions. Also, there may be a snake loose in his cabin, and he really hates golf.
Mexican and American artist/designer/maker/activist Tanya Aguiñiga shares with Jaime and Amy what it was like growing up in Tijuana and crossing the US border every day to attend school in the US, how an accidental haircut during her troubled teenage years got her kicked out of the house, and how a dedicated mentor gave her the encouragement she needed to become an artist. She also recounts a few crazy stories featuring a clown, a bull and an eagle.
Lighting, furnishing, and toy designer David Weeks chats up Jaime and Amy about growing up in the South, making it in NYC, and being driven by curiosity, liberation and the importance of tactility in an increasingly virtual world. Along the way he slips in tales of smashing cars, badgering local acid trippers, and utilizing a technique called formal reduction.
UK-based product and interior designer Lee Broom entertains Jaime and Amy with stories of being a child actor in a Shakespeare company, winning a fashion design competition that led to working with Vivienne Westwood, and designing the most expensive lightbulb you’ll ever buy. His flair for theatre makes an appearance in everything he does, from dramatic light fixtures to design week stunts he always puts on a gorgeous show.
Designer and CEO of Loll Designs, Greg Benson, is living the good life in Duluth, MN. He shares with Jaime and Amy his trajectory from building skate parks all over the world as a founder of TrueRide, to growing the trifecta of design, manufacturing, and distribution sister companies currently in the Loll family. A dedicated steward of the planet, he knows his way around the great outdoors, a well-crafted IPA, and the art of modern lollygagging.
Australian designer, illustrator and typographer Gemma O’Brien reveals how her big break began with being slammed by a noteworthy font expert on the internet, regales Jaime and Amy with her puke puns for illustrated barf bags, and elaborates on her deep love of words and letters. She’s also a great sport in a silly round of word association.
Ammunition’s Robert Brunner breaks down the headphone renaissance created by Beats by Dr. Dre, tells the story of his accidental path to studying industrial design, and explains why empathy is an important part of his creative process. He also details his chapter as the Director of Industrial Design at Apple, and shares with Jaime and Amy his thoughts on fatherhood and education.
Actor, artist and renaissance man, Terry Crews recounts his adventures in furniture design, gets candid about his childhood ambition to escape the trap of his bleak hometown, and expounds on his duality as both a tough athlete and sensitive artist. In the process, he slings some serious wisdom and infects Jaime and Amy with his super-contagious lust for life.
Potter and home decor mogul, Jonathan Adler reveals to Jaime and Amy how he found refuge from a tortured adolescence in clay and the potter’s wheel, and then how getting out from behind the wheel engendered a personal creative explosion. He also shares the origin of his very first store in Soho, and the story behind the design of the Parker Palm Springs.
Jaime and Amy talk to design mogul Rebecca Finell of Finell about her unusual path from medicine to modern design, balancing business with babies, and standing out in a sea of sameness. Rebecca talks about designing her first hit product while still in school, transitioning from pre-med to industrial design, and her love of Austin, Texas. Also, learn how good partnerships were a key to her success.
LA-based lighting and furniture designer Brendan Ravenhill opens up about growing up in West Africa, how the process of making helped him work through grief, and his unusual career path from lobsters to light bulbs.